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Squat Toilet Etiquette: Don’t Read if You Get Grossed Out…

It’s embarrassing!

Being potty trained at the ripe age of 27.  After arriving in Asia for the first time, I found my Western toilet training completely useless.

So let’s address Asian squat toilet etiquette.

Much of Asia uses squat toilets (or squatty potties) – where the toilet is a hole in the floor covered with porcelain.

Squat ToiletImage Credit: By fortes

How to Use Squat Toilets

  • Roll up pant legs to avoid splatter.  It’s a much shallower bowl than a Western toilet.
  • Position feet shoulder width apart around the hole.  They are typically extended portions of the porcelain for your feet that are ribbed so you don’t slip.
  • Squat down till your thighs almost touch calves. Don’t attempt a high seated squat… your legs will be on fire half way through.  It’s surprisingly comfortable once you get used to it.
  • Relieve yourself (LOL – not sure if I needed to include this step!)
  • Clean up with provided water or bring your own TP.  Some places will have a hose or a bucket of water.  I prefer to bring my own TP.
  • Toss a cup of water into the hole to flush.

Don’t worry…

After a few tries, you’ll be a pro – and might even come to prefer squat toilets over Western ones.


  • More developed areas have Western toilets, but be prepared for squat toilets just in case.
  • Never throw TP in a squat toilet. Use the trash.
  • Always carry TP if you don’t want to use water.

Have a funny story or tip for our readers?

Please share below.


  1. Catherine says:

    I lived in Morocco for 6 months, and squat toilets were predominant. When my friends and I were out and about in the many wonderful places in Morocco, if we needed to use a toilet, we’d have to go to a cafe. Now, most cafes in Morocco are men-only types of establishments. Not that it stopped us, but it made it more awkward, and the bathrooms – egad, they smelled worse because of it. But one of the weird quirks of Morocco was that most cafes had two stories – and the second story quite often had a significantly shorter roof (as in maybe 5′ tall). So you had to squat to get to the squat toilet to begin with.

    But I have to say, while camping out in the Sahara, using a sand dune as your commode was quite interesting (and a bit liberating). You just had to remember the next morning what dune you picked as your relief spot – and avoid it as much as possible (admittedly, how many dunes have been used as toilets over time and the likelihood you’ve walked through one…good things sands move!)

  2. Teresa says:

    Having traveled through SE Asia, my only comment on using squat toilets is, “When You gotta go, you gotta go, and if there is no other alternative, you grin and bare it!”

  3. Grizzly Bear Mom says:

    It seems to me that a squat toilet is more hygenic because you never touch it. Also, they use less water, which would make them more ecologically friendly.

  4. Haha, I really enjoied the mail after travelling through China and SE Asia! I really pfeffered squad toilets – because you don’t touch anything!!
    What I found out: when you have to pay for a toilet in china prepare for a really, really bad experience! And if you are travelling by bus get prepared for peeing right next to several chinese girls/ women – they don’t know anything about privacy on the toilet 😉

  5. What about a squat toilet…. without a hole! I found that in India in the outhouse of a roadside restaurant. You had to relieve yourself right there on the cement, but there were 3 walls and a door for privacy, no roof.

  6. If you are a female wear a dress. So much easier to hike up than have wet pant hems from the continually wet floors

  7. Melanie Therese says:

    I’ve been in Hanoi for a month now, staying with a local family, and it’s been my first extended experience with Asian Toilet Culture. I have a Western toilet, but the entire bathroom is my shower stall.

    After about a day, in a slightly belated gesture of courtesy, a half-used roll of toilet paper showed up in my bathroom. I did my best to make it last, but also decided not to replace it by buying another if it wasn’t magically replenished.

    I was determined to work out the mechanics of this. Sandra Bullock hearts Sylvester Stallone 4 Ever!

    Despite my secret hopes, the TP was not topped up.

    I did try using the hose once or twice. I’ve pretty much fallen into using a washcloth to wipe and keeping that in the sink area so it can be reached easily and rinsed regularly.

    So, basically, I have so far failed in my quest.

    The part I don’t get is the excess wetness. Rinsing is great, but then what? Aside from the worry of warmth plus wet growing unpleasant things, this is water I’m very carefully not drinking. I was hesitant to rinse my menstrual cup with it (If I shouldn’t be putting it into my mouth, surely I shouldn’t be putting it into other openings in my body?).

    I know this whole matter is somewhat indelicate, but if anyone has additional tips I’d love to hear them.

    Melanie Therese

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